Thursday, June 16th, 2022

Kendrick Lamar – N95

Thankfully we were allowed to keep the blurbs on…


Nortey Dowuona: “Oh, you worried about our opinion? That ain’t protocol.”

Al Varela: I find it funny that the one mainstream hit from Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers is the one that actively calls out the listener on their shallow bullshit. I feel like if anyone else made this song, it’d be way more derided or not taken seriously. Kendrick is essentially lashing out against the constant hypocrisy that has lingered throughout the pandemic and the political movements that came up within it. Not just the government willing to risk millions of lives for the sake of big corporations, but fake activists who insist on being for the cause when all they do is post and perpetuate things like “cancel culture” rather than make any real push for change. It’s borderline an anti-social media “get off your phone” type song that less celebrated artists would be scorned for. I guess this topic reads better in the context of the album, where Kendrick begins lashing out against people who fall into those facades and asking them to disconnect from it all like he did, only to realize he has his own facade to unpack later on. But I think even without that I find a kernel of truth to it. So much tension in social media and human interaction as a whole has been tied to the expectations we have of ourselves and others. And if we’re not holding them up to that “standard”, we feel the need to expose it so we can feel better about our own problems. I appreciate someone as beloved by people in that camp as Kendrick calling out that bullshit, especially when the song itself sounds fantastic. The voice changes he goes through in the third verse always make me smile.

Ian Mathers: Sure there are different flows and voices and some stuff going on with the production, but tonally this is just one long sneer. The exhausting kind, that might leave you going “we get it you’re the GOAT, we get it“. He’s not out of pocket, the whole damn system is out of pocket. It almost feels like the kind of thing that might be significantly and productively recontextualized if heard in the context of a larger work, but hey: it’s not called The Album Track Jukebox.

Katherine St Asaph: Perhaps the fact that I’m hearing this as a single, and not as part of a Kendrick Lamar Event Album, is why it sounds so… non-monumental?

Alfred Soto: He’s “got some true stories to tell” and maybe I believe him, or at least, I believe that he believes. The punctuative ewws complement the collection of voices with which he experiments, most of which have ordinary things to say about “cancel culture” and bitches who wear masks but remain “ugly as fuck.” Mr. Morale offers tastier goodies.

Oliver Maier: Some truly awful lyrics from Kendrick here, firmly in his post-Damn mode of vaguely sermonising about a lot of things and hoping that some kind of a point will seep in through the cracks. Thankfully the beat sounds like it was made for Epic Rap Battles of History so nothing of value is wasted. Entertaining the mediocre indeed.

Reader average: [5.66] (3 votes)

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